I have frequently mentioned that I am a maths student, the closest thing I do to essay writing is writing out a long proof; despite the jokes I may make about humanities and arts students I believe that they are doing something truly incredible. Mathematics and sciences have objective answers which can be proved, or demonstrated with experiments, however any truth in the interpretation of a novel will be only in the readers mind.
A proof in mathematics is rarely the only proof for any given theorem, you can derive the addition sine and cosine formulae from a specially created rectangle or through manipulation of the exponential function, but at the end of the day the result is true, was true and always will be true. In studying English however the interpretation of a certain passage will have an important connection to the scholar and will likely be unique as it may resonate with past experiences that they have had. At this point I would like to point out that the last time I studied anything humanities or arts based was back when I did GCSEs, three years ago now so I understand that my world-view is limited.
History to me is monumentally important as a field of study for example. It teaches us of cultures from before our time and learn from its mistakes; we can’t hope to understand race relations in the world today without understanding where the initial conflicts were. From this we can help to build a better society, there is currently a debate around Oxford University as to whether we should remove a statue of notable colonialist and all-around bad guy Cecil Rhodes as many people view it as glorifying a man who put measures in place for apartheid. The argument against removing the statue is that it is censoring history to remove a statue of someone so prominent (albeit for the wrong reasons), and that by removing the statue you allow people to forget the history. The base argument here is the same – we should not forget history be it good or bad. This is why the study of history is so important as it causes people to think about how we got to be here and how that affects the way that people behave
As the science will always hold, societies rarely hold science as the heart of its culture; it is not unique to any group of people. Science is highly important to society, without it we’d all still be living without electricity or wifi or running water and most people would argue that these are improvements. However the arts are tremendously important, we are a society surrounded by blockbuster movies and novels and TV shows that go massively under appreciated in terms of their contribution to society. Works of media and art are reflections of how a group of people act and think.
Whatever the chosen art form it helps us to look at society, potentially in a new way. There’s a reason when people invade other countries they try to destroy the old civilization’s art; art cannot be truly replaced. I hear of funding cuts to the arts subjects but I hope that those in favour realise that just because something may not provide direct economic benefit such as computing that they are therefore inherently useless. Naturally, there is economic benefit as people buy theatre tickets and music so provided that the companies involve actually pay a bit of tax *cough* google, amazon, starbucks *cough*, but the cultural value of art is far more important than the economic value.
Art can inspire people in ways that you cannot even conceive and to me that is the true beauty of it, I can appreciate a good painting if I go to a museum but the real value is the thoughts and actions it can inspire. If you cut funding to the arts I hope you only watch films by amateurs and listen to music recorded on some teenager’s laptop microphone because that’s all they knew how to use. Whether you study chemistry, politics, history, art or music, it is phenomenally important to have your subject funded as they are all integral to the human experience.